Last Updated: July 4th, 2022

Rowing vs running vs cycling…it is tough to compare these three as all of them are excellent forms of cardio.

However, all of them have some pros and cons inherent of them due to the nature of the exercise.

We will discuss them in detail and let’s find out which one comes out as a winner…

Running Vs Rowing Vs Cycling

Rowing Vs Running Vs Cycling: Which Is Better?

Comparing rowing vs running vs cycling, none of them is better than the other. However, all of them have some pros and cons and the one suitable for a user will be completely dependent on these factors.

When you search this particular phrase in Google, you will find a lot of articles, either telling cycling or running and mostly rowing to be better.

They have their own logic and most of them are valid. However, when you are comparing anything, the essential component that they are missing out on is the person who will be doing these exercises.

However, if we put that into the mix of factors, then we will find that none of these are better than each other…

So, what we thought, is to provide you with some inherent pros and cons that these forms of exercises have so that you can select the best option for your needs…

Let’s begin…


If you want to run, you have a lot of options to choose from like…

  • Road running – This is probably one of the most popular forms if not the most popular form of running.
  • Trail running
  • Running on the tracks
  • Hill Running – Improves your stamina and cardiovascular endurance most effectively and faster.
  • Running on the treadmill

However, even if you have a lot of types to choose from, the basic advantages and disadvantages of all these forms are the same…

Running: Pros

A very effective form of cardio and strengthens your cardiovascular muscle very well.

Excellent for burning calories, if you are trying to lose weight.

I’ve covered the benefits of running a lot on this website, and will not elaborate here…If you would like to read further, kindly read those articles.

Running: Cons

If you run too much, it puts too much pressure on your knees. This can lead to injury to the knees and can cause permanent damage.

Also, if you are overweight, and want to run a lot, it is a problem due to the same above-mentioned reason. In such cases, you have to strengthen your knees first, before attempting to start running.

People with arthritis also should not run depending on their condition. If they want to, then they should get advice from their instructor and physician, before starting.

Running causes back stiffness due to minimal usage of back muscles and holding onto a single stance for a long time. It may also lead to a back injury.

Also, people with conditions like asthma, heart problems, or even epilepsy are at more risk, if they try to run. They may get an attack due to the heightened state of the body.


Like running, rowing also has different types…

For water rowing, there are rowing clubs present in different colleges, universities, or for the general public…

Also, in some countries like India, in the state of Kerala, rowing is celebrated as a festival…It is called Vallam kali. Apart from that, there are similar rowing festivals celebrated throughout Kerala.

Now let’s see what are the benefits and disadvantages of rowing…

Rowing: Pros

Rowing is a very good form of cardio and is very effective in strengthening your cardiovascular muscle.

It can increase your heart rate in a very short amount of time, faster than both running and cycling.

Very good for burning calories and losing weight.

Strengthens and tones your back muscles, biceps, triceps, and your core. Also, works on your quads and knees.

Rowing: Cons

If you are dealing with back pain, you should avoid rowing. Back pain is very common in people who are working corporate jobs and have a sedentary lifestyle.

People who have slip-disc also should avoid using the rowing machine.

If you have a knee injury or have a bad knee in general, avoid using a rowing machine, use it only after strengthening your knees.


Like running and rowing, cycling also has different types…

  • Biking or cycling on the roads
  • Mountain cycling.
  • Cycling on a stationary bike.

In most, triathlon events cycling is one of the primary events. Also, there are different cycling races throughout the world.

Also, it is used as a mode of commuting in places nowadays…

Although there are a lot of benefits to cycling, it is not completely devoid of its own shortcomings…

Let’s find out…

Cycling: Pros

Cycling is an excellent form of cardio and will give you similar benefits as running and rowing.

The chances of getting a back injury are minimal.

The core and lower half of your body get effectively toned.

Excellent form of cardio.

Cycling: Cons

If you have knee problems, then you cannot do cycling. Your chances of increasing your problem are more.

People with ankle problems or Achilles problems should not be cycling.

Related: How To Build Calf Muscles For Skinny Legs?

Although, as we have seen, there are some inherent pros and cons to each form of cardio…if you are a healthy individual who doesn’t have knee, back, or other such problems, then and only then, rowing is better for you.

It is not a load-bearing form of cardio and is not hard on your joints. This way, your chances of injuries are very less.

Running being a load-bearing exercise may cause you injuries, even if you didn’t have them, to begin with.

Related: Benefits Of Rowing Machine Vs Treadmill

Although, if you have an injury in your knees you may not be able to row or cycle or run. However, this statement although true, cannot be generalized.

If I take myself as an example, I have had some knee issues for the last 10 years. The ligaments around my knees are weak and that is painful for me when I try to cycle.

However, with rowing and running, I don’t feel that pain and can do both of them easily.


Although, we have compared rowing, running, and cycling, choosing one as the winner will be a gross mistake.

Not a single of them is perfect for everyone’s body, and there may be some, for whom, all three of them are not suitable. Also, there will be people who can perform all three of them.

It is very hard to tell which is better if not downright impossible. I know, this conclusion may not be what you were looking for, but this is what it is…

Rowing Vs Cycling Vs Running
Madhusree Basu

Madhusree Basu

Author, Admin

Blogger and a fitness enthusiast. She loves running and Yoga and everything in between. She started running to manage her weight and to eat to her heart’s content. A true foodie at heart she shares whatever knowledge she has gained throughout the years about weight management and fitness.

Sourav Sarkar

Sourav Sarkar

Reviewer, Certified Fitness Instructor

Certified fitness trainer and an ex-professional bodybuilder, he has trained more than 500 fitness enthusiasts and has more than 15 years of on-the-job experience.